A new pedestrian safety pilot program is underway in Newark, Woodbridge, Hackettstown, and Jersey City. The “Street Smart” campaign, a collaborative effort between public, private and non-profit organizations, urges motorists and pedestrian to “check your vital signs” to improve your safety on the road.
The “vital signs” message reminds both drivers and pedestrians to pay attention and adhere to posted signage, which will make travel safer for all roadway users. For motorists, that means observing posted speed limits and stop signs, and stopping for pedestrians in marked crosswalks. If you’re on foot, use crosswalks and wait for the walk signal. If everyone heeded these signs, crashes could be prevented and lives saved. The message may seem simple, but it’s vitally important.
The campaign is long overdue. New Jersey ranks 14th in the nation in pedestrian fatalities and is designated a “focus” state by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Between 2009 and 2012, 565 pedestrians were killed and more than 17,000 injured on our roadways — that translates to one death every 2.5 days and 11 injuries daily. Last year, 568 people died in motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey — 25 percent were pedestrians.
At a campaign kick-off event held November 1 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology campus in Newark, representatives from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, which is coordinating the campaign in partnership with FHWA, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, joined with municipal and law enforcement officials, and safety and public health advocates. They unveiled the campaign message and outreach materials, and discussed the effects of speed on pedestrian safety. If a pedestrian is struck by a car going 20 mph or slower, the odds of survival are good. At speeds above 35 mph, the impact is likely to be fatal.
The campaign uses advertising, grassroots public awareness efforts and law enforcement to address pedestrian safety. Community groups are joining with businesses, schools, churches, hospitals, and non-profit organizations to post and distribute information including tips for all roadway users.
Police officers in the pilot communities are enforcing pedestrian safety laws. They’re focusing on motorists who fail to obey New Jersey’s law requiring them to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, as well as pedestrians who jaywalk. They’re also addressing speeding, illegal turns and distracted and inattentive driving and walking, which contribute to pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes.
Despite the program being piloted in these four communities, roadway users throughout New Jersey are urged to get on board. The goal of the Street Smart campaign is to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities on all roadways. It is possible. Check your vital signs. Obey the law. Lives are on the line.